Project construction would take place at latitude 26.9777, longitude -82.0096 in Harbor Heights, Charlotte County, Florida. This lot is within occupied scrub-jay habitat. In 1987, we listed this species as threatened (June 3, 1987; 52 FR 20715). The listing became effective July 6, 1987.
The applicant proposes to mitigate for the loss of 0.23 acre (0.1 ha) of occupied scrub-jay habitat by contribution of 0.46 acre (0.19 ha) of suitable scrub-jay habitat to nearby existing conservation lands within Charlotte County, along with a fee of $1,380.00 for perpetual maintenance of the donated land, within 180 days of permit issuance or before the commencement of clearing and construction activities, whichever is sooner.
Our Preliminary Determination:The Service has made a preliminary determination that the applicant's project, including the proposed mitigation and minimization measures, will individually and cumulatively have a minor or negligible effect on the species covered in the HCP. Therefore, the ITP is a “low-effect” project and qualifies as a categorical exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (40 CFR 1506.6), as provided by the Department of the Interior Manual (516 DM 2 Appendix 1 and 516 DM 6 Appendix 1), and as defined in our Habitat Conservation Planning Handbook (November 1996). We base our determination that the project qualifies as a low-effect plan on the following three criteria: (1) Implementation of the project would result in minor or negligible effects on federally listed, proposed, and candidate species and their habitats; (2) Implementation of the project would result in minor or negligible effects on other environmental values or resources; and (3) Impacts of the plan, considered together with the impacts of other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable similarly situated projects, would not result, over time, in cumulative effects to environmental values or resources that would be considered significant. As more fully explained in our environmental action statement and associated Low Effect Screening Form, the applicant's proposed project qualifies as a “low-effect” project. This preliminary determination may be revised based on our review of public comments that we receive in response to this notice.
Next Steps:The Service will evaluate the HCP and comments submitted thereon to determine whether the application meets the requirements of section 10(a) of the Act. The Service will also evaluate whether issuance of the section 10(a)(1)(B) ITP comply with section 7 of the Act by conducting an intra-Service section 7 consultation. The results of this consultation, in combination with the above findings, will be used in the final analysis to determine whether or not to issue the ITP. If it is determined that the requirements of the Act are met, the ITP will be issued for the incidental take of the Florida scrub-jay.
This notice is provided pursuant to Section 10 of the Endangered Species Act and NEPA regulations (40 CFR 1506.6).
Dated: June 14, 2011.
Acting Field Supervisor, South Florida Ecological Services Office.